Dear Simon Turner, don’t do Harakiri

This is the story of a white witch, who cast a spell on the blacks who refused to pay him tribute, and favored those who did. In the end the curse befell those who refused to follow the path of righteousness – the witch included.

In English: This piece highlights the evil forces that Africans have to fight against to maintain unity and peace in their countries.

Towards the end of 2012 when I lived in South Africa, one morning I receive a call from my danish friend Andreas Christensen in Kigali. He is outraged by a report he read on the website of the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). As a good Danish citizen he frequently consults DIIS’s space to be informed about world politics, and know where to go and what to think. Except this time he has stumbled on to a report that is telling a story that has nothing to do with his four and a half years’ Rwandan experience. It was published by one Simon Turner, an English ‘Expert on our region’.

In a nutshell: Simon Turner explains that unlike in Burundi, in Rwanda the ‘Victors – [current regime] lacks popular legitimacy’ and predicts that Rwanda is facing an imminent implosion while Burundi has found the right model for lasting peace…

Andreas tells me we should write a rebuttal, and sends me the link to the biased report: here

I read it and understood his frustration: The report is a compendium of all the lies and prejudices, frequently written on Rwanda by Genocide deniers and those who hate our president Paul Kagame.

Here is the Summary taken from the Danish Institute for International Studies: ‘The report argues that Rwanda appears to be ahead of Burundi in terms of economic growth, political stability and state building. Likewise, it appears that national unity has replaced ethnic tensions. On closer scrutiny, however, these achievements may only be temporary. In the long term, Rwanda risks renewed violence because of a lack of social justice and popular legitimacy of the state. Burundi, on the other hand, appears to be achieving meager economic growth and is experiencing political instability. However, the report argues that the long and complex path that Burundi has chosen, may prove to be more durable in the long run.’ link here

I wrote the rebuttal, sent it to the Danish Institute for International Studies and requested them to publish it in all intellectual fairness. They never did; although Simon Turner re-tweeted its link on my blog saying, ‘it is the first time my work is used like this’.Here is the link to the rebuttal

As soon as I move back to Rwanda in 2014, I am invited by a diplomat in Kigali to ‘discuss my work’. I notice that he has printed the entire rebuttal from my blog, studied it and marked passages in it with a highlighter. He sits me down and asks: ‘Gatete, how has your opinions about Rwanda changed since you came back…?’

Two years after Simon Turner’s doomsday article – and a few month after my return, 3.8 million Rwandans sign a petition requesting the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame to stay in power when his last term in office ends. They feel he has delivered progress and stability. Seeing this, the burundian president Peter Nkurunziza wants to emulate Kagame without his citizen’s approval: The Burundian population conducts an uprise, asking president Nkurunziza and his administration to leave; a military coup is attempted and failed. The country remains in a political turmoil to date, with more than 100.000 people displaced, some sheltered in refugee camps in Rwanda and across the region.

In the 44-pager report, Mr. Turner portrays Rwanda as a country where the population is taken hostage by a small, illegitimate gang and that sooner rather than later the people will riseup. In Burundi however, he rejoices, all is well.

In fact, what really saddens both my diplomat friend and Mr. Turner – as the latter writes; is that in Rwanda: ‘issues of ethnicity have simply been banned from public discourse […] –by what he calls the victors’

While I found it easy to rebut his report and expose its flaws. I stopped short however, of preconceiving an upcoming crisis in Burundi. I am no conflict expert; nor am I ‘Danish institutes for world developments’; I am, but a humble citizen of mankind, wishing well to all societies, with the needed humility to know my limits, when it comes to defining rich and complex civilizations in six months-research and a 44 pager, flawed treatise.

Mr. Turner is a stereotype of an academic fraud; perhaps which precisely makes his authority in the west, on our regional matters: ‘he tortures the figures until they confess’; he is an ‘opinion for hire’

But he isn’t alone on this; in fact, he was just feeding into a pervasive narrative on our region, widely held by the so-called experts; those who precisely feed off conflicts. And clearly he was supported, at least intellectually, by some diplomats who work in Rwanda.

There is a saying in French: ‘le ridicule ne tue pas’ – ‘Ridicule doesn’t kill’ –
What is so pathetic about all this, is that he wouldn’t be a man enough to come out and apologize; admit that he was deeply wrong; that his assessment was entirely flawed– but then again, why should he? In my rebuttal I warned him that to make such outrageously biased statements might be ‘a carrier stopper’. Boy how wrong was I! In fact, now he will be hired by more institutes of international developments to make other more flawed assessments about Africa, and so on and so forth – in this debauchery, that is called ‘international  development studies’

If anyone ever wondered why after 75 years of ‘development aid’, no African country has actually developed: here is your explanation.

I will thank both Turner and the diplomat for one thing though: they have confirmed a theory that I have been studying for a while; I called it the “Africa bias theory”. In this theory, I contend that African governance models must be exclusively defined, reformed and approved by Africans. The more criticism an African model draws from western experts, should confirm and strengthen Africans belief in their models.

What, as a Rwanda, I appreciate about Rwanda politics – what foreign experts hate about it, is that the post-genocide government has pursued, with resolute, policies aimed at eradicating anything that would ever lead to our division; ever again. All tags: ethnic, occupational and physiological are being removed; the unity of the people is paramount! This also means that it is impossible for people like Simon Turner to penetrate. Without being an expert myself, all I have to do is speak to those who claim the title and assess their feelings. If they hate it, I am safe; Burundians should have know this trick…

If Simon Turner was Japanese, he would have to do harakiri and die with honor; or at least he would cut his little and present it to me as a sign of respect. But he doesn’t have a conscience. Unlike his namesake in Pirates of the Caribbean, he’s a pirate with no code.  So make no mistake; he still has achieved his agenda. No investor wants to put money in an unstable place with brimming conflict; perception of crisis leads to real crisis; and that’s people like Simon Turner’s bread and butter.

He needn’t be accurate. Even though facts are loudly against him, given that the exact opposite of what he predicted actually occurred. All he wanted was to create a perception. The fact that people like us, and others challenge them, somewhat water down their impact. But usually these individuals aren’t challenged.

Sadly he isn’t alone, there are many in his kind, and this article isn’t only for him, but written to all of them apprentice witches, prophets of doom to our way of life.

So to Simon Turner, I know you will be hired to write another report on Rwanda, just don’t forget to make a big disclaimer at the bottom saying: ‘Don’t do this at home’ or ‘smoking kills’ whichever you like;

And to the Danish world peace institute: I think you should make your thing the ‘Danish Institute of Copenhagen studies’; then you would run more chances of having a clue on what is going on – of course you have to change researchers…

I would like to conclude with a special dedication to the three characters in this piece, of these few Bob Marley’s lyrics from his song Bad Card: ‘Propaganda spreading over my name, say you wanna bring another life to shame: Oh man it’s just a big disgrace… and you draw bad card… Cause we are guarding the palace so majestic, guarding the palace so realistic…’

Here is the link to the full song: Bad Card – by Bob Marley. Listen to it as you meditate on your place in history..

Note to African scholars: Take a minute to read the academic rebuttal. It gives a map into how to expose these impostors. Here again: On this link